“The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.” — Fred (Mr.), Rogers
On August 14, 2019 a determined teenager sailed across the ocean with an urgent message about climate change. Greta Thunberg was derided by many people, despite the gravity of her concerns.
A few months later, a virus began to fester. By February 2020, COVID-19 was spreading across the globe. It was discounted by our former American President as a passing scourge, no more virulent than the common flu.
By April, American hospitals were over capacity, and our death toll would not stop climbing.
In May, the world bore witness to the racially charged death of an innocent man, which sparked a cry of American hypocrisy across the world.
“I can’t breathe.”
In August, raging wildfires burned throughout the west coast of America, and thousands of people suffered, lost homes and lives, regardless of class, wealth, or color. Smoke filled the skies and the words that were uttered were the same:
“I can’t breathe.”
We are now halfway through January, 2021, and just yesterday, in the US, 4031 people met their deaths from COVID-19. Many on Ventilators.
They couldn’t breathe.
Our breath is our spirit and our vitality. America’s inability to draw breath represents the sickest part of the world organism. And, as a nation of enormous impact, it is inflicting pain and injury on the kinetic global body to which it is connected. At 4% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the globe’s COVID cases.
In a crisis like this, our global anatomy should be working in tandem, yet instead it is faltering because its constituent parts are ill.
We are at the point where nothing less than an absolute and critical commitment to supporting the health of our humanity will mitigate our ongoing, devastating emotional, physical and environmental climate change.
Sickness in one area of the body, impacts the entire organism. The American systems of health have profoundly affected its citizen’s overall outlook on humanity. This pandemic is a disruptor of massive, ongoing proportions, and yet, during the crucial last twelve months, our witnessing in real time, the US government’s unwillingness to risk even a moment of solidarity in the face of so much loss and change has been truly unconscionable.
In the US, Universal health care is a paradox for policy makers to ponder. And what about the people? The pandemic has taught us that certainty must come from within, and collaboration gets us through the darkness.
Needed, is a parallel care system by and for the people, that redefines, and supports how we care for ourselves and each other.
Needed, not just in the US, but all across the world is a bright and trustworthy, free, integrated, community-based health model that innovates self-care, guides people in sensitive and empathetic directions, diminishes physician burnout, legitimizes different types of healing systems, and normalizes the relationship between mental, emotional and physical health.
Needed is a global platform devoted to our well-being — one that is structured around essential human rights and our healthy development as a collective culture in concert with the rest of the world.
In 2021 it is imperative that people re-learn what enables an authentic, kind, nurturing connection. It is critical that our relationship to health, technology, and community begins to transform. It is time to cease consuming blindly and uncritically.
2,065,698 souls have left the world from COVID-19.
How does a planet move through grief of this magnitude? A global shift is occurring and this is the moment to acknowledge what we have lost and what we are still losing.
This year many of us have silently asked ourselves, ‘Who is in charge of the world?’ Where is the global representative that can speak for all countries, for all families, and for all our grief? When will someone step up and help us accept the suffering?
Why are we not observing a daily moment of silence as so many people leave the world at once? Global communities grow stronger with global rituals. It is important to observe the weight of this planet going through such a collective and grave experience.
We are in charge of ourselves. The first step is to grow the muscles for stronger self-reflection. The next step is to harness a collective sense of purpose. And throughout, we must rejoice in the knowledge that we are a global family and that all cultures and races are equally valuable. If we can mourn together, we can heal together.
Fifteen years ago, I conceived Kinnected as an antidote to a future zeitgeist, one where fast propagating technology would deform our global society. Now, we are in that moment, where vulnerability to misinformation, normalization of violence, and a massive breakdown around global health — all of it is finally forcing us to look at new paradigms for both online community culture and for prioritizing the health of our human behavior.
The words I wrote upon conceiving Kinnected, ring as true today as they did in 2005:
“The elements of heritage and health are not easily navigated in today’s society, which is often fragmented by an increasing lack of hope, confidence, and trust in our world and those that we presuppose are running it for our good. The most prevalent attempts at community service over the internet are based on instant gratification, messaging, and advertising. We are encouraged to create superficial ties that feed world-wide advertising and marketing campaigns.
It is a well-known and often ignored truth that the actions of regular everyday citizens are the best hope in this world for us to create positive change. And the most positive changes are projects and ideas that help the world draw together as a community and encourage everyone to understand the need for an emotional, global relationship of interdependence.”
The urgent signal coming from America is global and determined: we need transparency, truth and solidarity to face the suffering and inequalities laid bare by the pandemic. By healing ourselves, the world body begins to heal too.
Our failure can and must lead with innovation. By nurturing through design, and developing health models not towards financial gain but towards an era of survival.
The quality of our communities reflects the quality of our lives. If the right stories can’t reach us, then those stories can’t teach us. The pandemic has highlighted the urgency around my work with Kinnected, and increased it tenfold, because health is a culture that we experience every day. How we live our lives is how we heal ourselves and others. We must become a global care system that celebrates collaboration, empathy and progress.
Today and every day, a moment of silence for our global family.
This article is part 3 in a series about humane technology, community culture, and global public health.